Otago able to step up, Finnie says

Mitchell Finnie pitches at Ellis Park this week as he prepares to play for Otago at the Jefferies...
Mitchell Finnie pitches at Ellis Park this week as he prepares to play for Otago at the Jefferies Cup today. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Mitchell Finnie can bring a little more experience than usual to the blue and gold uniform this year.

The 23-year-old suits up for Otago having spent last summer around the country’s top diamonds.

Of course, that experience came in baseball, in which he was part of the Auckland Tuatara squad in the Australian Baseball League.

But it will no doubt help as Otago takes its annual big step up to the Jefferies Cup in Christchurch.

Tough challenges loom against Canterbury, Marlborough and Southland — all of which Otago will play twice.

However, it is a jump Finnie, who both pitches and plays in the field, feels the Otago players have made enough times to be able to cope.

"Pitching’s the main thing that, especially as hitters, facing higher-level pitching is where we get caught out a wee bit, just because we don’t face too much down here.

"I’m sure we can make the adjustment and put on a good show for Otago."

Alongside the region’s best, the side will pick up two players of origin in Matt Watts and Josh Eastwood.

It has also has gained former Otago player Cam Watts, as well as Canterbury pitcher Chris Agnew as pick-up players.

The Watts brothers and Eastwood are all playing in Christchurch, a path several Otago players have taken in recent years.

However, it is not something Finnie has looked at, given he has a job as a product developer at Fish and Meats in Dunedin.

That was something that has also been an obstacle to cracking the Tuatara squad again.

Last season had been a great experience and while he did not take the field, he had learnt plenty.

He trialled for this season, but t was a lack of experience rather than ability that hurt him.

"They’ve brought a few more of the US guys over.

"They said I had enough of what it took to be in the team skill-wise.

"But because I don’t have any experience and stuff, we don’t play down here, so they couldn’t trust me to do the job.

"It’s fair enough. I can understand that, but it’s a bit of a pain."

Moving to Auckland to play in a club team was not an option for the same reason as moving to Christchurch was not.

However, he said it was hoped they would be able to get a baseball competition started at Hancock Park next year.

It would be basic and likely played on a Sunday or midweek so as not to steal from softball.

For now though, the Jefferies Cup was his focus.

Otago plays four games today, its first against Southland doubling as the Bates Shield game after it was rained out earlier this month.

The Otago’s women’s team will contest the Jubilee Cup.

The team includes Mariana Ioane and Kirsty Currie, who both played for the Southern Pride last year, while Heaven Samson-Loffley is playing as an origin player.

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